Douglas has been a professional food writer since 1986. He is also an award-winning actor and director in Community Theatre and has been for many years. His blog may be found at: www.urbaneguerilla.wordpress.com
Published April 13th 2015
He must fight one of the world’s most evil organisations
Every now and then a movie comes along in a critic's life that you simply do not know what to make of - The Gunman is such a movie. I honestly cannot tell you what I think of it.
On the one hand it has all the elements of an action blockbuster - a rugged hero on the run with a disability - in this case Sean Penn, whose face reminds me of nothing so much as an unmade bed with a more than passing resemblance to the late Sid James.
Sean Penn in The Gunman (Photgraph courtesy of StudioCanal)
There are shoot outs - endless shoot outs - betrayals by his oldest and dearest friends, a delectable leading lady (Jasmine Trinca), poison, torture and suitably hideous deaths for the baddies.
On the other hand it contains every film cliché known to man other than leaves flying off a wall calendar. The lone gunman of the title, Sean Penn, improbably named 'Jim Terrier' has every man's hand against him as he battles to clear his name from the evil multi-nationals who are trying to kill him, etc, etc
The production is slick, the plot paper thin but the scenery is great, the filming in Africa and Spain gorgeous, the acting by Ray Winstone (a sidekick) first class and there is much to admire in a purely technical sense.
Jasmine Trinca in The Gunman (Photoraph courtesy of StudioCanal)
But there are some scenes at a bull-fighting ring I did not care for, although the end credits assure us no animals were injured. But it also implied no actors were killed and I saw several dozen dispached pretty messily.
If I were as cynical as some think I am, I would say the producers looked at Liam Neeson in Taken and its sequels and thought, 'There's a unlikely hero doing daring things and making the producers a great deal of money, let's find another and do it ourselves.'
But Mr Penn is no Liam Neeson - there's that voice for one thing. Neeson can order breakfast and make it sound thrilling, while Penn could tell you the world is coming to an end (as he does fairly frequently) and make it sound like ordering breakfast.
Ultimately, for me, it was the lack of chemistry between the stars, despite some heavy, but unbelievable, petting and the fact that it was everything you've ever seen before in an action film slickly and cynically presented.
I don't really think I enjoyed it much, although I should have. People who like this sort of thing will find it the sort of thing they like.